Wyden Co-Sponsors Bicameral Bill to Close Homework Gap, Ensure Students have Reliable Broadband Access
Legislation provides $40 billion over five years to extend the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund and enable schools and libraries to continue supporting distance learning and connections
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today co-sponsored legislation close the homework gap by ensuring reliable access to broadband for all. The bill builds on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years—for a total of $40 billion—to continue to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices to students, staff, and library patrons following the coronavirus pandemic.
“In this day and age, access to reliable broadband is critical to doing research and completing homework assignments, so students who cannot count on access to the internet risk falling behind, through no fault of their own” Wyden said. “All students, regardless of their zip code or tax bracket, should have reliable internet access, and this legislation would lay the foundation for a reliable bridge to end the digital divide for young Oregonians.”
The legislation continues the lawmakers’ efforts to close the homework gap facing 12 to 17 million students in the United States who do not have internet access at home and support distance learning after the pandemic is over. Even before the current emergency, students without connectivity were at an educational disadvantage because they could not complete homework assignments that required internet access after class. The coronavirus pandemic only made this situation worse as schools shifted to online learning, leaving students without internet access unable to continue their education.
Under the Emergency Educational Connections Act, a part of the American Rescue Plan, Congress provided a one-time, $7.17 billion appropriation to connect students and library patrons struggling to learn at home. The SUCCESS Act will provide crucial additional funding to ensure that the kids who are finally being connected by the Emergency Connectivity Fund are not disconnected once the original funds run dry.
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
The bill is also cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Bob Casey, D-Pa., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Representatives Lisa Blunt Rochester, DE, Tony Cárdenas, CA-29, Judy Chu, CA-27, Adriano Espaillat, NY-13, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, IL-04,Raúl Grijalva, AZ-03, Jahana Hayes, CT-05, Sheila Jackson Lee, TX-18, Ro Khanna, CA-17, Barbara Lee, CA-13, Carolyn B. Maloney, NY-12, Betty McCollum, MN-04, Jerrold Nadler, NY-10, Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC, Mark Pocan, WI-02, Ayanna Pressley, MA-07, Bobby Rush, IL-01, Jan Schakowsky, IL-09, Abigail D. Spanberger, VA-07, Thomas R Suozzi, NY-03, Ritchie Torres, NY-15, Nydia M. Velázquez, NY-07, Bonnie Watson Coleman, NJ-12, Peter Welch, VT, and Frederica S. Wilson, FL-24.